The Congress picked Vijay Bahuguna as its chief minister of Uttarakhand, putting an end to the long-drawn search marred by bickering and lobbying in a highly fractious state unit. A second-term MP from Tehri Garhwal, Bahuguna was picked ahead of Haridwar MP Harish Rawat, Pauri MP Satpal Maharaj and several statelevel aspirants who were not serious contenders but stayed in focus in view of serious divisions within. Bahuguna is seen as a compromise candidate in the battle of heavyweights like Rawat and Maharaj. The decision, announced on Monday evening amid intensifying speculation and preceded by a series of meetings, led to serious heartburn in party ranks. While Bahuguna is believed to have sailed through because of his comparative lightweight status, party leaders were keeping their fingers crossed about the destabilizing potential of factions in view of Congress’s thin numbers. Congress has 32 MLAs in the assembly of 70, one more than BJP, and it would bank on four independents and the three-member BSP for survival. Bahuguna exuded confidence that he would carry all party sections along with him and that "there will be no split". The legislature party had authorized Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to finalise the candidate after AICC general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad elicited the views of MLAs at a meeting in Dehradun. Interestingly, Bahuguna is a cousin of outgoing BJP chief minister B C Khanduri, while being the son of former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh H N Bahuguna. His sister Rita Joshi is party chief in UP.